New toys (literally!)

I am making good progress with the second celebration dress, I can’t show you what I am working on yet but the toile fitted well (work in progress picture with cutting out old bed sheet below).

Sarah's dress toile

I spent most of yesterday cutting out and zigzagging the edges of the fabric with these lovely colour threads. Fingers crossed the dress fits tomorrow after I have tacked all the pieces together 🙂

Sarah's dress 7

I have got some new toys, some to help with fittings for these types of garments and others for smaller ones so I am very pleased to introduce you to Millie the Mannequin!

Milly mannequin

I have wanted one for a long time and now that my lovely son Jake is not around to help me with fitting Steampunk attire it has become a necessity so she arrived on Friday and is settling into the sewing room nicely.

I will have to pad her out a bit in the chest area, I ordered a size 16/18 version from Amazon but she has a much smaller bust than me so I will sort that with an old bra and some wadding. I am very excited to use her for my Steampunk creations later in the year.

My other toys are for my ever growing collection of Barbie couture. I wanted to buy some new dolls and I needed some for work as well for a session we are doing on diversity. Barbie have now got a far more diverse range of dolls in different body sizes, skin colours and hair colours so I now have a few additions to my family, to avoid confusion I have given them all different names as we can’t have everyone being called Barbie!

I have also got some new photo backgrounds, I can’t find any of the ones that people use for their Gene Marshall dolls to buy, so I have just got some nice photos from the internet and printed them.I think they look a lot prettier than the black background.

First of all there is Alexa, she is one of the curvy body size dolls and she has fab hair. This dress I made for her out of an old skirt, I added beads to the bodice but all of the embroidery was already on the skirt and it is lined. I think the colour of the dress really suits her hair.

Barbie - Alexa 1

Barbie - Alexa 2

Barbie - Alexa 3

Next is Aisha, she is a petite doll so apologies that the dress she is wearing is not a very good fit. She is a lot shorter and has a much smaller bust than the standard Barbie dolls so I will need to adjust my patterns for her and make her something that fits better.

Barbie - Aisha 1

The dress is one that I have made for a birthday present and is just a simple wrap dress with a Velcro fastening.

Barbie - Aisha 2

Zuri is my last new purchase ( I chose the name as it means beautiful according to my search for African names on Google), she is standard size Barbie with gorgeous brown eyes and is wearing another one of the wrap dresses.

Barbie - Zuri 1

I have also finished the outfit for the friend who also uses Barbie in her teaching. This is Lily and her outfit comes from the latest set of patterns that I bought, this 1960s set. I have used the black suit pattern on the top right here. I did add a waistband rather than elastic as there was not much room to fold over the waist once it was gathered.

Barbie Patterns 2

Barbie - Lily 1

Barbie - Lily 2

I had a lot of trouble with the blouse, I had to re-make it in thinner fabric and am still not completely happy with the neckline but am very pleased with the jacket and the skirt.

Again all this is scrap fabric and the skirt has organza layered over the silk. The flower motif on the blouse is again from an old bra, I have lots of this lace left so am going to feature it in many more outfits.

Barbie - Lily 4

Barbie - Lily 3

I shall be spending the rest of the weekend tacking the celebration dress for a fitting tomorrow but hope to get a couple more Barbie outfits cut out this week as well as I need to get two more dresses made for presents in the next few weeks.

Barbie Patterns 1

I think I may go for the green dress in the picture above for one of them. The neckline does look super fiddly but I am up for the challenge!

I hope you are having a lovely creative weekend as well, take care, have a nice week ahead and thanks for visiting.

Historic costume and historic eateries

I am writing this in the aftermath of another storm, luckily the only damage to me is some blown over bins but we have had a lot of flooding in the area both last weekend and this, which may have contributed to a very strange dream I have last night where I was asked to run a session on the link between climate change and sewing! To my knowledge I don’t think seamstresses and embroiders have any negative effect on the climate, rather we are a force for good 🙂

We had some more wonderful costumes to look at in Liverpool last week, again in the Walker Art Gallery with a small collection of Regency garments.

It is always particularly fascinating to see these as of course they would have been completely hand stitched, unlike some of the Victorian and Edwardian and are all the more impressive for that. The embroidery on the men’s jackets and waistcoats is just mind blowing, so perfectly done and so detailed.

Liverpool Regency clothes 3

Liverpool Regency clothes 4

Liverpool Regency clothes 8

I also have finally realised what a polonaise is which is very useful for my Steampunk costumes. Here is an example of one, the fashion of which was revived in Victorian times.It is an overskirt which can be hitched up at the back to create the ruffled look.

Liverpool Regency clothes 6

Liverpool Regency clothes 7

One of the styles that I love is the ‘sack back gown’, with the train at the back and I love the ruffles on this one. It is made of silk which would have been so bright as the time.

There was a small collection of underwear including stays and a shift and also some wonderful padded stockings, for men who did not have the required fashionable shapely calf to go with their breeches.

Liverpool Regency clothes 10

There was also the added excitement at the art gallery of coming across some unexpected Pre-Raphelite paintings. I love these, not least for their medieval costumes and amazing attention to detail in the work, especially the backgrounds of the paintings.

Liverpool Art 1

Liverpool Art 2

Liverpool Art 3

Liverpool Art 4

Liverpool Art 5

We also had some lovely meals out in historic eateries, we chose our lunch venue on Saturday from Google Maps based on the fact that it was located in an old church and it did not disappoint.

Liverpool Food 3

The Alma de Cuba took over the de-consecrated church in 2005 and have very tastefully combined the original architecture with its new function as a restaurant and nightclub. I loved the fact that it was candlelit and had strings of lights in the ceiling. Many of the bars were lit in this way with fairy lights and it looks so lovely in the gloomy weather.

Liverpool Food 1

Liverpool Food 2

Liverpool Food 4

We chose a little vintage style cafe Rhubarb for our very lovely brunch on Sunday , near our accommodation in Lark Lane, which has lots of really beautiful historic buildings and a wide selection of places to eat.

Liverpool Food 5

We sadly did not mange the Victorian pumping house converted into a pub for lunch due to coming home early but will save that for next time.

I have finished one of the celebration projects, 19 hours sewing of lace has been completed this week, in 3 days actually which impressed even me! I had a very nice time doing that and will be able to show you the photos in a few weeks.

I am now just about to start on another dress after a very successful shopping trip to the wonderful Bombay Stores yesterday. I was very good and only spent £4 on needles, invisible thread and a metre of lovely braid but there were many yards of glorious fabric purchased by my friends for the event which is in April. There will be all sorts of lovely costume at that one as it is Middle Earth themed so I will make sure that I take lots of photos for you.

I am off to a writing retreat with work tomorrow to work on the revisions on my doctorate. Not as much fun as sewing but it will be lovely to spend time with colleagues and it is a very beautiful place. I have been twice before and am really looking forward to a few nice walks as well, weather permitting.

I will be back next weekend, hope that you all have a very good week ahead and hopefully there will be no more weird weather. Take care and thanks for visiting.

The leaving of Liverpool

We had a very lovely time this weekend, although we did leave in a bit of a hurry due to the awful stormy weather. We were looking round the Maritime Museum, ironically we had just visited the section on emigration, when the museum closed due to the bad weather so we cut short our visit.

Luckily made it back to the car in one piece as it was very blowy and made it safely home through a few bits of flooded road. I now do not have to leave the house for three days as I am working on my doctoral rewrites and some marking which I am very grateful for! It is now sleeting and very cold out so I shall hide indoors and sew 🙂

We were there primarily to visit An English Lady’s wardrobe exhibition at The Walker Art Gallery which was very good. It was an unusual exhibition in that it was the collection of one person, Emily Tinne, who was born in 1886 and died in 1966. It was also accompanied by letters that she and her family wrote and photos of them, sometimes wearing the garments.The portrait photo below shows her around the time of her wedding.

Liverpool Clothes 1

The garments date from around the time of her marriage like this silk evening gown and a beautiful tiny waisted lawn dress with its whitework detail, to the clothes she wore as an older women after seven pregnancies. Emily did comment on how she could not believe that she had ever been so slim.

Liverpool Clothes 29

Liverpool Clothes 8

Liverpool Clothes 9

Liverpool Clothes 10

Liverpool Clothes 11

Liverpool Clothes 12

The blouse above has the most beautiful embroidered detail on the sleeves and I love the ruffled cuffs. It is the sort of thing that I would love to try and make to go with my Steampunk outfits.The silk dress below has gorgeous embroidery and is one of a collection of her day dresses.

There was also information about the shops in Liverpool that she bought from, copies of adverts from magazines and  information about her dressmaker so a real social history of the time and fantastic detail for costume historians and sewing enthusiasts.

Liverpool Clothes 33

Liverpool Clothes 36

Liverpool Clothes 37

There was a little display of some of the sorts of patterns that she used, the illustrations here are gorgeous so I bought a notebook and bookmark from the gift shop with some of these on.

What was lovely was that there were many things that she bought, such as some of the evening gowns, and never wore or that were not even her size or style but the family said that she probably just wanted to keep supporting shops and the salesgirls who worked on commission during the difficult years of the Depression. I think that is a fabulous reason for buying things and one that I can use as well for supporting fabric retailers.

There were also 150 hats in the collection, we were talking to one of the collection stewards and he was telling us that a group had recently visited in 1930s and 40s costume and he loved the hats and why didn’t we all wear hats more often and we both agreed. One of the lovely things about re-enactment and Steampunk is the wearing of hats and head dresses that instantly make you feel more glamorous.

Liverpool Clothes 28

The evening dresses were, as you would expect from a 20s and 30s collection, full of the most wonderful beading and embroidery.

Emily was also a very good needlewoman and made many of her children’s clothes herself. I love the two versions of this dress with ruffles.

Liverpool Clothes 2

Liverpool Clothes 3

The smocking on this ivory silk dress below is so skillful and tennis dresses so elegant. The little embroidered dress in white and blue at the bottom of the display is one of the ones there was a photo for, showing her daughter wearing it at the age of about three.

I have been watching some more videos on You Tube about historical costuming while I have been sewing which I will post about another time. It was fascinating to see all of the underwear as one of the vloggers has just made some combinations like the ones here. The detail of the pin tucks and lace is so gorgeous, especially as this was not going to be seen.The last photo is of a chemise that was never worn and still has the price tag on it.

Liverpool Clothes 19

Liverpool Clothes 22

One of my favourite pieces was this velvet evening jacket on the left of the picture below. I love wearing velvet, though not sewing it, and I have a gorgeous black jacket that I have added lace to for Steampunk. I also loved this amazing georgette evening cape. I would love to have the skills be able to make something like that.

Liverpool Clothes 34

Liverpool Clothes 35

We also saw some more Regency gowns which I will post about later and had some lovely meals out in historic properties. There is still so much to see in Liverpool so we will definitely go back and visit more of the museums next year.

I am working on a couple of secret projects for a friend’s wedding and another friend’s partnership celebrations and those are going to take priority for the next few weeks so will only be able to do a little bit of my own crafting in the evenings. I am going to focus on getting some more of the Barbie things finished for the first set of birthdays in April and early May as those and the wedding things have to be done before we go to Japan in only seven weeks!

I hope you are all having a good time and are not too storm damaged. Take care and thanks for visiting.

So many wonderful things to make!

I am making fairly good progress with my latest Barbie outfit but have had to ditch a little blouse today, note to self, thick satin does not work well on a miniature scale. I just could not get the seams neat enough as they were too bulky so will remake it with thinner fabric. I have managed to make a very cute little silk jacket though.

I have so many lovely things on the wish list, some of these will stay there for a very long time whereas others will probably find their way onto the ‘do now’ list soon.As you know I love all the work that Jenny of Elefantz creates and she has a new monthly series of stitcheries that I have recently subscribed to.

They are called Faith in Hand and are beautiful designs all featuring quotes from the bible. As well as the subscription she also sells them individually from her Etsy shop the following month.  This is one of my favourite so I think this will be the first to be made for me (picture from Jenny’s Etsy store).

Elefantz Faith in Hand

She also has a free block of the month with the 23rd Psalm again with gorgeous designs. She is so generous, there are always so many free stitcheries on her blog and I love visiting just to get updates on her life.

One of my other favorite places to go for inspiration is Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet. She has just finished a Vintage Block Along with some beautiful designs that she gives all of the very detailed introductions for accompanied by photos.

Lori Holt Vintage Block Along 1

The links for all of these blocks are at the bottom of the above link and I would love to make a quilt like this one day.I love that multicoloured star block in the top right of this second picture. (All pictures from Lori’s blog.)

Lori Holt Vintage Block Along 2

Her latest make is this gorgeous Vintage Housewife Sew Along . 

VintageHousewife-SewAlong_1

I really love the dress on the washing line as well as the cleaning stuff block.She has got some fab free clip art of the design in the guide as well as the overall plan on her first post in the sew along.

Vintage Housewife Quilt 1

Vintage Housewife Quilt 3

She has just made the first block which is this very cute oven.

Vintage Housewife Quilt 4

I would love to use some of these designs on their own as things like recipe book covers and think that this one below would make a wonderful sewing machine cover.I love the little quilt hanging over the edge of the machine.

Vintage Housewife Quilt 2

Ellen and I have a very exciting trip coming up next weekend as we are going to Liverpool to see this exhibition, An English Lady’s Wardrobe, at The Walker Art Gallery. Not that we need any more inspiration for beautiful costume but it looks fascinating. There is also an 18th century costume collection there as well! Exciting stuff.

I hope that you have a lovely weekend and week ahead. I am teaching tomorrow so will have to wait until Sunday to get back to the Barbie blouse. Take care and thanks for visiting and hopefully I will have lots of lovely pictures for you in the next post.

 

 

 

A few little finishes

I use the word little in the title literally as I have been making more Barbie couture. I forgot to take a photo of some of the dresses that I made as Christmas presents but I have so far made 5 different versions of this one in different fabrics and different skirt lengths and have another two in progress in cotton prints.

Barbie gowns 1

This is a really simple design and easy to get on and off the dolls as well so great for little fingers.To go with the purple skirted one I have made this beautiful coat, I love this although it was a bit of a sewing challenge with all of the tiny seams. I did also cover all of the seams with black ribbon to neaten them which took a long time.

Barbie purple coat 1

Barbie purple coat 2

Barbie purple coat 3

Barbie purple coat 4

I am making an outfit for my colleague as she has some dolls that she uses in her teaching so will try and make another one like this if I have enough fabric as I love the colours together. This is from an old silk bag,  the handle split and I couldn’t work out how to mend it so used the outer and lining fabric for the coat.

I have bought some more Barbie patterns from Gail’s Vintage Doll patterns on Etsy. They are great as they come as instant PDF patterns so easy to print off and very clear to use. I love the 1960s deigns here and think they look so sophisticated.

Barbie Patterns 1

Barbie Patterns 2

I bought some more ribbon and flowers for Barbie dresses when I was in Spain, there is some great haberdashery over there which is very cheap and I always add a bit to my stash when I visit.

Barbie notions

I sent the littlest great niece, Rosie, a rabbit for Christmas. This is again one of the Little Cotton Rabbits ones from Julie and I need to knit so many more of these as I love them, and all the other animals as well. This dress is my favourite of all the designs as I love the lacy hem, which is knitted sideways, and am very proud that I can knit this as it takes a bit of concentration.

Rosie's rabbit 1

Rosie's rabbit 2

I have also finished her sister, Ava’s,  dinosaur hat! I am very pleased with this as it was a combination of two patterns as I couldn’t find one I liked or could make in time.The basic beanie comes from the Drops site here  but I added a deep rib as I thought the curled brim of this pattern would not work as well with spikes. The spikes pattern is from here ,I used size 5 needles and knitted each spike separately and then stitched them together as I found it easier than increasing.

Ava's dino hat 2

I am now trying to sort out a plan for the rest of the year, there is so much I want to make and some things I have to prioritise like birthday gifts so I think I will start by scheduling everything.

At least I have a whole 11 months until next Christmas 🙂 so plenty of time for 4 quiet books, a whole wardrobe of Barbie things, at least 3 new Steampunk outfits, 12 Christmas ornaments and any other knitting and embroidery that takes my fancy. Problem is I keep seeing such lovely things on the internet!

I will be back next week to show you some of those, I post my ‘oh look how lovely these ideas are’ posts as much for me as for you as it is great to remind myself of all the loveliness that is out there for me to make.

Hope you have a nice week ahead, it is going to be quite a quiet one for me as I am mainly marking but that does give the chance to spend a couple of hours a day in the craft room as I am working from home a lot so that is nice. Take care and thanks for visiting.

The treasure trove that is Bombay Stores

A couple of days before Christmas Ellie came up for a short visit and we decided to go and do a bit of fabric shopping. I am trying not to buy things and to be good but I do need to make several new Steampunk outfits and I just do not have enough yardage of any one fabric to make all these so I thought I would treat myself to some for Christmas.

We are lucky enough to live near Bradford which has the most amazing Asian fabric shops, our favourite being the wonderful Bombay Stores which we have visited several times, notably to buy Amanda’s and Kerry’s wedding fabric. As well as fabric they have Asian wedding dresses so we always have a quick look at that section to marvel at the beauty of these. They also sell amazing bags, shoes and jewelry, this video gives you a quick overview of all of the fabulous things.

I adore the Asian dresses, if you are not familiar with them then I have found a couple of Pinterest pictures for you to admire. The colours and the embroidery, beads and crystal are amazing and there are so many different colours available as well as traditional red.

Asain wedding dress 1

Asain wedding dress 2

We were really lucky that day as they were having a sale – brocades at £1.25 a metre and satins, organza and lining fabric at 75p a metre! I had been planning just to buy a sari set to get enough fabric to make one outfit as these are very good value at between £20 and £30 depending on style but instead got a total of 35 metres of fabric plus silk and embellishments for under £40.It was indeed a very happy Christmas to me 🙂

I am taking my inspiration for the first outfit from a few sources. I love this outfit by Yaya Han, who is a cosplayer and model and wanted to make something peacock inspired. I have not bought this pattern as it a little too fitted for me so am planning to use one of my other Steampunk patterns.

Yaya Han Peacock costume

I have also found some lovely hats like this one below and I love the colours they have used so wanted to have a peacock hat as well.

Steampunk Hat 1

I also have a set, bought from Bombay Stores as a present by Amanda, to say thank you for making her wedding coat. I did not have time to make up before her wedding so it has been in the stash ever since . It has a fabric for a full length tunic with the most amazing embroidery as well as fabric for lining.

Raj fabric 2

I bought the turquoise fabric with lining and the turquoise and gold organza in the picture below intending to just use that but they all go so well together that I am going to use all of them for an outfit which will be a turquoise jacket embellished with embroidered motifs.

Raj fabric 3

I also bought some small pieces of silk in peacock colours as well as these gorgeous jewels to make peacock embellishments. I think they will made wonderful decorations for my purple top hat which I plan to wear with the outfit.

Raj fabric1

The other part of the haul was 10 metres of this amazing brocade plus some gold lining fabric.

Bombay stores gold

 

I was not certain which pattern I was going to use for that however my lovely Steampunk Seamstress Squadron Facebook sewing friends alerted me to a 50% off Simplicity pattern sale last night so I bought this coat pattern. I am think of making a fairly straight skirt to go with this coat as an evening outfit for the ball at Lincoln Asylum event in August.

simplicity-military-cosplay-costumes-pattern-8769-envelope-front

I also was lucky enough to have some fabric and a bag of very cute charms for Christmas from my brother Ben and sister-in-law Amanda, I love these patterns and am going to save the charm pack and fat eighths ones for a future quilt as I think the autumn colours are gorgeous. One of my retirement plans is to make lots of quilts for different seasons for my bed.

Christmas preseent fabric 1

Christmas preseent fabric 2

I have lots of things that I have made over the past couple of months that I have not posted about yet and some other plans for evening making as the outfits will have to be weekend work, which thankfully I have so many more of this term! I have just finished knitting a little hat for my great-niece Ava, now to knit some dinosaur spikes to go on it.

I hope you are all having a fun weekend with lots of nice crafting or other things planned. Thanks as always for visiting my blog, I have just upgraded my WordPress subscription to get rid of all of the adverts as they were becoming very irritating so hopefully you will all enjoy your visits even more now.

Take care and I will see you all soon.

La Marina sunsets and other Spanish delights

Happy 2020 everyone! I know I am a little late with my greetings but have only just got back from my very lovely and much needed break in Spain. I had a horrible bug before I left which lasted well into the holiday so have spent much time coughing and feeling rough but have come back feeling much better.

It was brilliant weather all the time I was there, much warmer than usual with temperatures of 27 degrees just before Christmas so I was able to go for lots of lovely walks in the sun and had a couple of very warm beach picnics on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. I love the fact that it looks like this in January! Look at all blues in this picture.

Spain beach

We also visited the local spa a couple of times which was heaven and I spent lots of time sorting out at the house and sitting on my terrace enjoying the sun.

One of the best things about La Marina are the amazing sunsets over the mountains, I know I have mentioned them before but the sheer beauty every night never ceases to amaze me and I try and go for walks at dusk to see them.

Spain Sunset 7

There are such amazing colours of purple, pink and orange in the sky as the sun sinks behind the mountains.This is one of my favourite areas to view the sunsets and I love the contrast of the cacti against the sky.

There are equally lovely sunrises over the sea but due to me getting up very late whilst on holiday I rarely see those, this picture was taken on my last morning when I had to get up early for my flight home.

Spain sunrise

I love finding new areas to explore on my walks and last visit went over the other side of the urbanisation and found a new verde, or green area, so went there again this trip. I will go back again as I was not wearing proper shoes to enable me to explore fully but I found another one of the cultivated garden areas that people make in these wild spaces.

Spain planting 5

This one was not so much a secret garden as it is beside the road but was still a wonderful collaboration of planting and seating areas by the owners of the neighbouring houses.There was a fir tree in the middle that had been decorated for Christmas as well which was very lovely.

Spain planting 3

I also found a couple more areas where people had converted the verde in the middle of a block of houses into a communal pool area and they looked equally gorgeous with the back gardens of all of the houses looking onto this beautiful shared space.

Spain planting 6

Spain planting 4

I just love wandering around looking at all the houses and gardens and getting inspiration for mine. The plants are so beautiful against the blue sky and there are oranges everywhere on the trees lining the roads. They are too bitter to eat but I have plans to make marmalade and orange relishes when I am there permanently. The bottom two pictures are from one of my favourite gardens, it looks like a mini stately home and there are terraces and gorgeous tiles everywhere.

Spain planting 2

Spain planting 1

Spain planting 8

Spain planting 7

My own house needed some TLC as since I last visited there had been some severe storms so the rain had come in under the front door. My Mum had to treat some damp which meant the loss of a few items that had gone mouldy. I also had a water leak under the front terrace which meant that my beautiful bougainvillea had to be cut down leaving the garden looking very bare. The whole of that back wall used to be covered with flowers.

Spain terrace 7

My Mum gave me some money for Christmas and my Aunt Maureen took me to our favourite garden centre where I bought lots of new terracotta pots and pretty flowers so everything is looking much brighter now.I even have a tiny new bougainvillea.

Spain terrace 6

Spain terrace 5

Spain terrace 4

Spain terrace 2

Spain terrace 1

Spain terrace 8

I also bought a cute new lizard for my wall. My neighbours who live there permanently have offered to water the plants for me so hopefully some will survive until my next visit in June.

I have already taught the first session of the year and am looking forward to this term.Things are a lot less hectic than last term as I only have about half the teaching and am on the the last stage of the doctorate so am going to be planning lots of lovely sewing and knitting which I will post about next time. I have new fabric (some I bought and some given as presents) as I treated myself to some for Steampunk outfits so am going to spend some of next weekend sorting that out and will take pictures of all the gorgeousness for you.

Meanwhile hope you are all well and happy and enjoying the first bit of the new year, although it is miserable weather again here I am very much looking forward to the next couple of months as there will be lots more crafting time. Take care and thanks for visiting.